By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (October 16, 2017) — Presley Wall and Christian Brown have been named MVPs -or MVRs for most valuable runners, quipped head coach Kristi Mayes – of the Stephenville cross country teams.
The most value runner awards were presented to the Honeybee freshman and Yellow Jacket junior during a cross country awards banquet at First Baptist Church Youth Center Monday evening, where the program as whole celebrated a fall full of success.
Success they hope to continue.
Perhaps with a trip to state.
Stephenville has definitely loaded itself up with possibilities as the Jackets and Bees prepare for the Region I-4A Championships,where they will try to earn their rightful share of the 304 coveted spots – girls and boys combined – in the 4A races at the UIL Cross Country State Meet.
There will be 38 boys and the same number of girls advancing from their 5K and 2-mile races at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock next Monday, and if there is one thing Mayes know she can count on, it’s the lead runner of each team, each voted MVP by their peers.
“The kids voted on these awards, and I can’t disagree with them, they made pretty good choices. Those two kids led us all year, so they are our MVPs, or MVR’s, most valuable runners,” said Mayes.
She further agreed with her teams’ picks for the annual Hear Awards. The yellow Jacket Heart Award was presented to Angel Luna and the Honeybee Heart Award to Reagan Henry, one of two three juniors who
The top performances by each team show them among the best six in the region, she pointed out after introducing the teams, member by member at the private banquet open to athletes, their families and invitees.
She told her teams, “I don’t think you recognize what you are on the brink of, and I want you to, because it’s a testament to the work you have put in.”
Work that included 4-mile runs throughout the summer.
“We knew that to compete with the Alvarados and the River Oaks, that’s what we had to do, we had to run four miles,” Mayes said. “We did and now we’re competing with those teams.”
She told a tale of someone telling her it appeared all her kids did was arrive at a met and go right to work.
“That’s right” Mayes said Monday as if she was responding in real time. “We get there, we get off the bus, we go to work, we kick your butt, we get back on the bus and we go home. And then we stop for ice cream on the way.”
The crowd laughed, but they all understand the expectation is serious. Coach Kristi Mayes absolutely expects to be running every bit of 2 miles with the girls or the 5K with the guys encouraging, cheering, leading, guiding, and performing any of another dozen acts related to coaching her kids at the state meet. It’s what they’ve trained for, what they’ve worked for and what she feels they deserve.
And their MVPs are a big reason why.
Wall has run in eight events, the maximum theUIL allows to this point and has finished in the top eight of all of them. It is true, however, that she must adjust her finishing gear for the shorter races, as her best finishes – two seconds and a third – have come at 3,000 and 3,200 meters. Not that her fourth and eighth place finishes at the Lubbock Invitational and the district meet aren’t respectable two mile runs, but the regional field will certainly be the strongest she has faced at that distance.
Whenever Wall makes her move, those familiar with the Bees know not to blink or the next runner – Kirbo – will already be past. Emily Kirbo has been the No. 2 runner at all eight races for Stephenville, and has placed immediately behind Wall in five of them. She gives the Bees a second candidate to qualify for state individually if the team is unable to finish in the top six.
Brown, a junior, took longer to develop, as boys often do. But he has arrived at the top of the team ledger and maintained that spot in his seven performances. Mayes said in a past interview she was especially proud of Brown’s surge to the front of Jacket runners because he is “a true program kid who worked hard for everything he has achieved, and stuck with it three years to reach this point.”
An illness prevented him from running in Stephenville’s Thrill of the Hill, when his typical finish would have lifted the Jackets from third to first in the team standings.
Brown has led the way in the other seven events, finishing in the top seven in all but one, when he was 23rd across the line running in the 5A-6A division of the Cleburne Invitational.
Fourth place on the three mile district course is the best finish this season for Brown, who has also placed fifth, sixth and has been seventh three times.
Lane Rust has most consistently run closest to Brown. A senior, Rust has been one of the first dozen finishers six times and was 32nd in the 5A-6A race in Cleburne. Rust has been sixth three times and has also finished seventh, eighth and 12th.
Luis Carrillo was not eligible for district but has been cleared for the regional meet, which means Stephenville should field a considerably stronger team than the one that surprised many with its second-place finish at district. He has three top 10 finishes – fourth in the Cowtown Challenge, eighth in the Glen Rose Invitational and 10th at Elk Run XVII.
Gilberto Garcia was the unsung hero of the district race, placing 10th to keep the scoring low in the absence of Carrillo. The surge of Garcia didn’t exactly come out of the blue as he had already placed ninth twice this season.